Matter

Magnetic Webs

Sand, snow and other granular materials have a split personality; they can flow through your fingers like a liquid, but if you squeeze them too hard, they “jam,” becoming firm like a solid. Engineers would like to harness this dual nature to create flexible scaffolds for soft robotics or buildings – but first, they must learn to control their behavior. Using transparent beads, researchers in Robert Behringer’s lab investigated how jamming changes when some particles in a material are magnetized.

Genetic Code to Computer Code

Tiny spirals of DNA can encode more than just the color of your eyes or the shape of your nose. Using self-assembling DNA wires, Duke engineer Chris Dwyer is building optical computing chips so compact that you could cram 5,000 movies on a single CD-sized disc. The chromophores (red dots) absorb light and transform it into packets of energy called excitons. Then these excitons leap from chromophore to chromophore in a specific pattern.

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